Maryland stages comeback to defeat Virginia in Battle of the Border

Photo by Chris Lyons/Maryland Terrapins

Anthony Colandrea and the Cavaliers faced a crucial third down in the red zone to start the fourth quarter, down just one score. The true freshman quarterback took the snap and fired a ball to the front pylon, but his pass was intercepted by defensive back Tarheeb Still to preserve the Maryland lead.

Taulia Tagovailoa capitalized on the first takeaway of the game, leading the Terps on an 80-yard touchdown drive to put the game on ice en route to a 42-14 win over the former ACC rival. 

Following a sluggish start for the second consecutive week at home, the Terps may have found their new problem. 

After overcoming a 14-point deficit following a disastrous opening three minutes of play last week against Charlotte, the Terps had to execute better heading into their first FBS matchup of the season. 

“These guys understand,” coach Mike Locksley said after last week’s win. “We did what we needed to do to win the game, but I think we all know that we didn’t play up to our standard.”

Another 14-point deficit later, and what was once a hiccup in a season full of expectations has become an unwanted theme. 

“We can’t keep starting slow,” said Still. “We know we can come out in the second half and play great, but in the beginning, we gotta stop beating ourselves.”

With momentum on Virginia’s side and nothing to feel good about offensively, special teams got the scoring started for Maryland. 

Freshman Braeden Wisloski returned a 98-yard kickoff to the house, sending Secu Stadium into a frenzy; his first career touch. 

“I’m sure a bunch of you were questioning why he was out there,” said Locksley. “You saw that play? The guy has that ability to make explosive plays. He got us going.”

Two possessions later, the Terps put together their best drive of the season, going 97 yards in 14 plays, chewing up over six minutes of game action. 

Roman Hemby capped off the drive with a three-yard touchdown to even the score before heading into the dressing room. The redshirt sophomore piled up just 48 yards on 12 touches but added two scores on the ground. 

After forcing Virginia to punt the first possession of the second half away, Tagovailoa took advantage, hitting Jeshaun Jones down the sideline in stride to give Maryland a 21-14 lead. 

The 64-yard touchdown is the second-longest connection between the duo behind only a 76-yard score dating back to 2020 against Minnesota. 

“That was just a great play call, obviously a great route,” said Tagovailoa. “We were trying to isolate Jones, he is a really good route runner.”

Maryland’s defense was phenomenal in the second half, holding Virginia without a point while accounting for four takeaways in the fourth quarter alone. 

“The defense did a tremendous job shutting out the last three quarters,” said Locksley. “Getting the ball back to our offense with those turnovers was huge.”

The Terps scored 21 straight off turnovers in the last frame and put 42 unanswered points on the board after trailing early. 

In another positive light, the Terps have proven their resilience and are finding success with their backs against the wall as they round the corner into Big Ten Conference play. 

“I think I have enough proof that we’re a team that is built to overcome adversity,” said Locksley. “I don’t need to see us down 14-0 to know that we’re capable.”

The Terps will hit the road for the first time next Saturday when they battle Michigan State in East Lansing.